Developing Possibilities

New release of Oracle Application Express eases innovation.

November 2010

Oracle Application Express is a Web application development tool included free with all editions of Oracle Database 11g. With it, customers can build applications quickly and easily right in their browsers without having to know HTML, Java, or any other code. Judging by the numbers, Oracle Application Express is a remarkable success. Each year, it is downloaded more than 100,000 times from Oracle Technology Network, and it was the most-requested database topic at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld.

In June, Oracle released Oracle Application Express 4.0. “This is our biggest release since it was first released in 2004,” Michael Hichwa, vice president of software development at Oracle and the tool’s original developer, told Profit. Release 4.0 “modernizes and improves a lot of the mainstay features,” he said.

Here Hichwa answers queries submitted by Profit readers through Twitter. Find out what he has to say about the new release, the future of user-generated applications, and how you can try the application for free.

@bibsdash: Does Oracle Application Express support creating multiple modules or applications such as order entry and inventory?

Hichwa: Oracle Application Express is typically used to expose database data in a report or data entry form or visualize it in a chart or calendar. Most customers don’t write their own general ledger or financial applications—they just buy them from Oracle. But there are a whole host of other applications that they don’t buy, typically referred to as custom applications, and Oracle Application Express excels at building these.

@whmvdp: Will a future release of Oracle Application Express include PHP and MySQL support?

Hichwa: PHP is a really different framework. A Website could combine PHP and Oracle Application Express. For example, PHP could create discussion forums and Oracle Application Express could be used for database reporting. Accessing MySQL is not typical. Oracle Application Express is installed within Oracle databases and is best suited to exposing data from the database in which it is installed. MySQL and other external content can be accessed via Web services including RESTful Web services. We would like to improve the integration—Oracle Application Express is for building opportunistic departmental business applications, and MySQL fits nicely into that. This is definitely something we’re keeping an eye on.

@akiwaky: Is Oracle Application Express only going to be available in English?

Hichwa: Actually, the application development environment is available in 10 different languages. Because Oracle Application Express is fully globalized and easily translatable, any application you write can be translated.

@e_israel: Is there a free trial version of Oracle Application Express 4.0?

Hichwa: Yes, you can point your browser to apex.oracle.com and try it for free. You will get a virtual private database where you can create your own tables and try fully functional packaged applications. We’ve been offering this free evaluation service since our first release six years ago; apex.oracle.com currently services more than 10,000 customers. If you prefer to try Oracle Application Express locally, you can download Oracle Database, Express Edition, the free version of our database, and install Oracle Application Express. It includes an older version, but you’ll want to upgrade to 4.0.

@OracleProfit: What is the future for user-generated apps?

Hichwa: I see it as rapidly expanding. It’s pretty old-school to think, “I am going to write text in Word and put my data in Excel, then share my files.” I envision a future that more closely resembles Wikipedia than file sharing. We see this today with so much information available in places like blogs and discussion forums. The lines between traditional static Web page design and user-managed content are becoming blurred. I see professionals increasingly contributing content to Web pages rather than downloading or authoring content in word processors and spreadsheets.

 


Thank you to readers from Mexico, the Netherlands, the U.S., and beyond who asked questions through Twitter.  

Join the conversation! Follow @OracleProfit to find out the topic of the next column and tweet your questions using the hashtag #askprofit. You’ll receive a 1 GB flash drive if your question is selected.